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WoodChat: Working with traditional owners to build capacity

2 May 2024

The latest episode of FWPA’s WoodChat podcast is focused on recently completed research which has showcased great potential for the development of sustainable native forestry activities in the Northern Territory led by Traditional Owner communities.

Listeners will hear from Northern Territory Government Project Manager Dallas Anson and University of the Sunshine Coast Associate Professor (Adjunct) Mark Annandale about their involvement with the initiative, which aimed to boost the forestry capacity of Traditional Owner (Yolngu) communities in the East Arnhem region.

The overarching principles behind this project include Traditional Owners making informed decisions about what they do on their land before anything takes place and supporting the sustainable livelihoods of the Indigenous people within the project,” Mark said.

The Traditional Owners were interested in pursuing sustainable forestry opportunities, but there was no foundational knowledge about their needs and desires from forestry, the forest resource itself, or the kinds of timber products that could be manufactured from it,” Dallas said. “This project addressed those foundational questions about what a combination of Traditional Owner and western forest management practices might look like in the region.”

Elsewhere in the episode, Indigenous project participants Mabo Mununggurritj and Balupalu Yunapingu share their experiences. The project saw training offered to Traditional Owners in operational skills and forest management principles, and the establishment of a Sustainable Native Forestry Demonstration Site where products were manufactured from locally harvested timber.

Other activities included raising stakeholder awareness of the value of sustainable Indigenous-led commercial forestry, and the consideration of potential business development opportunities.

FWPA facilitated this important work by providing funding to match the investment made by project partners including the University of the Sunshine Coast (UniSC), Gumatj Corporation, Northern Territory and Queensland governments, and other regional organisations.

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Source: Forest & Wood Products Australia (FWPA)

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